By Thai Newsroom Reporters
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER / BHUMJAITHAI Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul denied today (Feb.15) the controversial extension of the BTS Green Line concession might finally be a breaking point for the Palang Pracharath-led coalition government.
Anutin categorically dismissed speculation that the coalition government would fall apart in the face of the planned 30-year extension of Bangkok’s skytrain project which, he said, Bhumjaithai Party has invariably insisted that it be put into review before a cabinet approval is given to endorse it.
Whereas the concession for the BTS Green Line project is scheduled to expire in 2030, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has already pushed for the 30-year extension in advance despite strong objection from Transport Minister/Bhumjaithai secretary-general Saksayam Chidchob.
The Bhumjaithai leader commented that the questionable project extension might possibly lead to a criminal and damage lawsuit against the responsible authorities, thus prompting his party to avoid it.
In a rare political phenomenon, all seven Bhumjaithai members of cabinet skipped last week’s cabinet meeting with the controversial issue on agenda in apparent protest against it.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan downplayed concerns over an upcoming censure debate on allegedly erroneous, incompetent performances of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and members of his cabinet.
Prawit who concurrently acts as leader of Palang Pracharath Party likened the censure debate without a subsequent vote of confidence scheduled for Thursday and Friday to a fresh interpellation conducted weekly in the House of Representatives during which an MP makes an inquiry into the implementation of a government project or performances of any government officials which might allegedly trigger economic or social woes of the people or a loss of their interests to which a member of cabinet gives an explanation in response.
Prawit suggested members of cabinet need not worry so much about it since, he said, they would already be well-prepared to respond in the area of their responsibilities.
Nevertheless, the Palang Pracharath leader/deputy premier declined to comment on a follow-on debate tentatively scheduled for May which will be immediately followed by a vote of confidence.
During last September’s vote of confidence, some coalition MPs had been allegedly told to abstain from casting votes in support of Prayut following a four-day censure debate which had taken him to task over his allegedly poor handling of the sustained pandemic and the people’s hand-to-mouth situations.
The alleged shenanigan in the House chamber was finally aborted and closely followed by a sensational event in which Thammanat Prompow and Naruemon Pinyosinwat were reshuffled out of the Prayut cabinet as deputy agriculture & cooperatives minister and deputy labour minister respectively.
The aftermath of the aborted plot against Prayut had also seen a few Palang Pracharath members of cabinet quietly pressing for the ouster of Thammanat as secretary-general of the largest coalition partner in government.
Last month, Thammanat was ousted from Palang Pracharath Party alongside 20 MPs under his command, most of whom have finally registered themselves as members of a brand-new Thai Economic Party whereas a few others have joined coalition partner Bhumjaithai Party.
However, Prawit earlier reassured that Thammanat and his protege Thai Economic MPs as well as those of the other coalition partners will definitely continue to vote in support of Prayut following May’s censure debate.
Top: BTS skytrain light trail. Photo: Tony (CC BY 2.0)
Home Page: Passengers getting on the skytrain at Saphan Taksin station. Photo: David McKelvey (CC BY 2.0)